Monday, July 30, 2012

Literacy influences Behavior, Achievement and Success!

Literacy influences Behavior, Achievement and Success! 

Questions to ponder:  How detailed should we get?  What if a teacher teaches and nobody learns, should they go on? Is that the teachers fault or the students fault?  Is this a valid statement: "I taught it but they did not learn it?"  Do students have the "right to fail?"  Should they suffer their own consequences?  Who really suffers? Is it our responsibility or theirs?  What if they already know it and the material is boring?  What if they don't know it and the material is too advanced? 

These pedagogical questions were touched on at the #CCSS St Louis Cooperating School District Common Core Conference on July 25th and 26th, at the Frontenac Hilton in St Louis.  What a great venue and superior service!

Consider a high school like Brockton High School in Massachusetts.  They are the largest school in the state but have done great things academically, socially and behaviorally to serve their urban community.   A quick YouTube or Google search will find many things related to their current path for excellence. From earlier work, this school has approached success from three angles.

Rigor, Relevance and Relationships:  Literacy effects behavior, achievement and success!

First: Rigor
The rigor, content and ability to read and communicate form the foundational premise of our CCSS.  This implies reading is key.  Key to both learning to read, and then reading to learn.  (as described in other posts as well)  This rigor however is across ALL content areas.  Yes, even a performance based discipline like band, when students, after being asked to read the back story to a piece, listed the emotions they felt, finally understood the composure's intention's.  This personal revelation became the new starting point for the ensemble as they played with a renewed passion and energy.  Yes, reading does cross all the content areas.  Consider our students we send to technical schools.  What do they do?  They read a trade manual and then act according to the directions!  (Why does your DVD still blink 12:00?) If a student does not read well, help them!
Second: Relevance
Relevance is also vital to the effort exerted by our students.  Of course, there are times a compliant student, that already processes many mature relationships, will do things in response to, "because I said so"  (thanks Jesse).  This is often the exception, especially when the students initial struggle stems from outside influences such as poverty familial or learning issues.  Our quest then becomes twofold.  We must connect with our students on a deeper level first by knowing what is relevant to them.  We must be able to answer questions in their lives that demonstrate how much we care for them and desire success for them as individuals.  Secondly, our personal, sincere and direct connection with students motivates them to try something they may not have done before. (like green eggs or ham) From there, students take a risk because of caring adults influence over their lives.  If a student acts up, train them in the proper responses.  This allows teaching and then learning in the contents to happen.
Finally:  Relationships
Hope and acceptance are key students components to ensuring their success.  Good discipline does not diminish hope.  Our intention when teaching students is to use our content to reach into their lives to help them discipline their own behavior.  We are not trying to coerce into submission but striving to teach behavior as well as content.  Sometimes this gets confused.  A biologist, or, a teacher of students with biology as the vehicle or language that connects pupil to master?  A student does not typically express the thought in words but, they want and sometimes actually need approval from the adults and superiors in their world. (I know I do)  If this connection is too far from their grasp, simple deviant behavior causing a confrontation is a safe alternative that prevents this percieved vunerability from exposure.  If a kids acts out, teach him the right way to act!
Application questions. 
A student that yells "shut up" at a teacher should be ________?
A student sleeping in class should _______?
A student not turning in assignments should ________?

What do you think?
(But I am not a reading teacher?  Post to Follow)
We may be only Winfield, but we are going to be on the map!

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